1.31.2009


According to the New York Times, "It’s Not the Bonus Money. It’s the Principle." by Joe Nocera:

And on the ninth day, the president jawboned.

How else to describe what President Obama did on Thursday, his ninth day in office? Angered by news that Wall Street was doling out $18.4 billion in bonuses for 2008 — “the sixth-largest haul on record,” according to a front-page article in The New York Times, despite billions upon billions in losses — the president called reporters in and looked sternly into the cameras. Then he unloaded on Wall Street executives, just as President John F. Kennedy once unloaded on the country’s steel barons.

“That is the height of irresponsibility,” Mr. Obama said sharply, referring to the bonuses. “It is shameful.” Wall Street, he said, was coming to the government for badly needed help — which taxpayers were providing because otherwise “the entire system could come down on top of our heads” — and the government had a right to expect in return that Wall Street would “show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility.” After going on in this vein for a while, he slapped around Citigroup for agreeing to take that new $50 million corporate jet after agreeing to a huge bailout in November. The government’s demand that the plane be canceled should have been unnecessary “because they should know better,” he scolded.

Mr. Obama didn’t take a shot at John Thain, the former chief executive of Merrill Lynch, who was pushed out last week by his new boss, Ken Lewis, at Bank of America, after Merrill reported a $15.3 billion loss in the fourth quarter. But then, he didn’t have to. The revelation that Mr. Thain had spent $1.2 million remodeling his office shortly after joining Merrill in 2007 — and more recently allotted big bonuses to Merrill’s troops even as the firm’s red ink was forcing Bank of America to seek more government help — has transformed Mr. Thain into the new Richard Fuld. He’s the person Americans would most like to punch in the nose.

This week, American companies announced somewhere around 65,000 layoffs. Caterpillar, Kodak, Home Depot, I.B.M., even mighty Microsoft: they are all cutting jobs. Everywhere in the United States, people are feeling the pain of this deepening recession. Even those with jobs worry about their futures. Their 401(k) plans have been decimated. They are frightened and angry.
Which is why Wall Street should not be surprised that oversize bonuses and $50 million jets generate outrage — and tough rejoinders from the president. “It suggests the selfishness of people on Wall Street,” said Charles Elson, a corporate governance expert at the University of Delaware, who sounded pretty outraged himself. “Wall Street has yet to learn the lesson of what happened.” What happened, put simply, is that the people who thought of themselves as the smartest guys in the room — and were paid accordingly — weren’t so smart after all. They brought down the financial system. They lost so much money that only the government can save them. The scolding they got from the president this week suggests that they’re going to be paying a price — richly deserved, I might add — for a good long time.

Continue reading the NY Times article here.


1.27.2009


Narco-Economy 101


U.N. crime chief says drug money flowed into banks
Reuters: January 25, 2009



VIENNA: The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often became the only available capital when the crisis spiralled out of control last year.

"In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital," Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. "In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor."

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime had found evidence that "interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities," Costa was quoted as saying. There were "signs that some banks were rescued in that way."

Profil said Costa declined to identify countries or banks which may have received drug money and gave no indication how much cash might be involved. He only said Austria was not on top of his list, Profil said.

1.22.2009

John Boggle

Hats Off To The Queen of Soul

The Queen of Soul, Miss Aretha Franklin sang "My Country Tis of Thee" at President Obama's inauguration.

In an interview Ms. Franklin told CNN, "Yesterday, Mother Nature was not very kind to me. I'm going to deal with her when I get home. It, by no means, was my standard. I was not happy with it, but I just feel blessed because it could have been five above zero or five below zero like it is in Detroit."

"Some singers it doesn't bother and others it does. I don't care for it. It affected my voice."
Although her preformance of the song wasn't her best effort, the hat rocked the show. Of course that famous hat, which was designed by Mr. Song Millinery in Detroit, is reportedly flying off the shelves!


Even Ellen had to pay tribute to the show stealing hat.

“It’s an art form for me,” Song said. “For me, hats define a culture.”

Mr. Song Millinery’s clientele is 90% African-American, church-going women, Song said. His wholesale business supplies hats to shops in other cities with large African-American communities, and the merchandise sell especially well in California, Houston and Dallas. He designs 100 hat styles every six months. (Source: Bill McGraw, Motor City Journal)

So, what is the take-away lesson? It certainly seems like American innovation and design is alive and kicking. Retailers should take heed to the enormous sales of creative styles like the millinary creations of Mr. Song. The reason why retail sales are suffering is that the customer has been forgotten.
It was reported that Mr. Song sold over 500 hats like the one that Miss Aretha wore. Do the math, that's 500 hats at nearly $200, or a little short of over $100,000 in sales. Not bad. Not bad at all.

President Obama Retakes The Oath

Oath Redux

According to the New York Times, On Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Flubber Hall of Fame when he administered the presidential oath of office apparently without notes. Instead of having Barack Obama “solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States,” Chief Justice Roberts had him “solemnly swear that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully.” When Mr. Obama paused after “execute,” the chief justice prompted him to continue with “faithfully the office of president of the United States.” (To ensure that the president was properly sworn in, the chief justice re-administered the oath Wednesday evening.)

In his legal opinions, Chief Justice Roberts has altered quotations to conform to his notions of grammaticality, as when he excised the “ain’t” from Bob Dylan’s line “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” On Tuesday his inner copy editor overrode any instincts toward strict constructionism and unilaterally amended the Constitution by moving the adverb “faithfully” away from the verb. President Obama, whose attention to language is obvious in his speeches and writings, smiled at the chief justice’s hypercorrection, then gamely repeated it. Let’s hope that during the next four years he will always challenge dogma and boldly lead the nation in new directions.

We The People




Send In The Senate Clowns

The 3rd Street tunnel that runs under the National Mall transformed into a massive line of purple ticket holders Tuesday morning.

Thousands of people waited hours to enter the designated gate near First and Louisiana Streets to see history made.

Some of these ticket holders have turned to social networking site Facebook to share their pain and frustration with people who found themselves in the same situation. The Facebook group page is called "Survivors of the Purple Tunnel of Doom." They have posted photos and videos that show what it was like to wait in the sea of people.

An e-mail account has been set up by the Joint Congressional
Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies for feedback in response to thousands of ticket holders
not getting on to the National Mall: feedback@jccic.senate.gov

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, issued a statement Wednesday evening in response to reports of incidents.

"I am also aware of the incident involving the 3rd Street Tunnel, where thousands of people were stuck for several hours and apparently without any law enforcement presence.

There may have also been other irregularities, but I have heard enough to know that something went wrong and we need to find out what happened."
Mr. Sullivan has indicated that he will provide a full report.

Inaugural woes have members ticked


Rep. Jim McDermott’s brother had a ticket but never got through the gates.
Sen. Lamar Alexander’s chief legislative counsel was stranded — with a lot of other people — in a tunnel just off the Mall.

Staffers for Sen. John Barrasso fell victim to the now-legendary purple gate.
And a constituent of Sen. Amy Klobuchar — a man who wanted to be here so badly that he sold his snowmobile to come — never got in, even though he had a ticket in his hand.

On the day after Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States, members of Congress were flooded with complaints from people who just missed the chance to see history made.

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) said Wednesday morning that these people were “owed an apology.”

And on Wednesday afternoon, they got it.

“The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies deeply regrets that some ticket holders to the ceremonies were not able to get to their ticketed sections, primarily in the purple and blue zones,” the JCCIC said in a statement.
The committee said it had based its plan on “historic precedent” and “calculations of the number of guests that could safely be accommodated in each area.” But the crowds were “unprecedented,” the committee said, and a “huge flow of unticketed people” made matters worse.

The JCCIC promised a full examination of “every aspect of our planning, including ticketing, screening, pedestrian flows, gate numbers and placement, to provide a foundation of lessons learned to future inaugural planners” — and apologized “deeply ... to those guests who were not admitted.”

JCCIC chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Wednesday night that she’s asked the director of the Secret Service – along with the Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies – to conduct a “prompt investigation into two serious incidents that have been reported.”

“The specific incidents include the report that a decision was made to cut off access to purple and blue standing areas, which meant that a large number of ticketholders could not reach their designated areas,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I am also aware of the incident involving the 3rd Street Tunnel, where thousands of people were stuck for several hours and apparently without any law enforcement presence.”

Feinstein said that there may have been “other irregularities,” but that she’s “heard enough to know that something went wrong.”

She urged people who have “direct information” of the incidents to contact the Secret Service as well as the JCCIC at feedback@jccic.senate.gov.

As Feinstein's statement suggested, the biggest problem on Inauguration Day came at the purple gate — an Inauguration entrance near First Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest that’s given birth to a Facebook group called “Survivors of the Purple Tunnel of Doom.”

Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, said members of his staff spent their Inauguration on the wrong side of the purple monster. “They got there at 4 in the morning and were among the first hundred people in line,” he said, but they never got in.

Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) said two of his constituents ran out of luck at the purple gate. They returned to his office to watch the event on TV, then went outside again to watch the parade.

Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) had a school group left outside the gates. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said at least 40 people bearing his tickets — including members of his staff — weren’t allowed into the ceremony.

McDermott, a Democrat from Washington state, said the Seattle mayor and the Seattle police chief were, like his brother, left out in the cold. “The emotion level was so high,” he said. “I said to my brother, ‘Don’t complain to me. You were in Washington on the biggest Inauguration Day ever.’”

Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, was more sympathetic. “These are regular people who wanted to come here,” she said. “I’m not so worried about laying blame, but how can we make this better?”

There were also problems getting into some of Tuesday night’s inaugural balls.
A large number of people who purchased tickets to official balls through Ticketmaster arrived at the Convention Center on Tuesday night expecting to pick them up at a will call window. But there was no Ticketmaster will call window at the Convention Center — and, given the security perimeter around the building, it’s not clear that would-be partygoers could have gotten to one if there were.

Albert Lopez, the vice president of strategic communications for Ticketmaster Entertainment, said the company hasn’t received any complaints from the public. But in response to Politico’s inquiry, he said the company is investigating the matter.

Thomas P. Ryan, a lawyer in town from Chicago, said he and “hundreds of people” tried unsuccessfully to find someone at the event to give them tickets, roaming to different areas around the Convention Center for hours with no luck. Finally, the Secret Service told them to go home.

“It was hundreds and hundreds of people,” Ryan said Tuesday night. “People were out there for hours freezing their asses off.”

Melanie Roussell, a spokeswoman for the Presidential Inauguration Committee, said some people with tickets for the Youth Ball at the Washington Hilton were denied access after fire department officials declared the site over capacity. “We are in the process of determining a response to ticketed guests who were unable to attend,” she said.

Conrad missed the Midwestern Ball at the Convention Center, but he has only Obama to blame. The president’s motorcade restrictedthe senator’s access to the ball, where many of his constituents partied on without him.

1.21.2009

Vendors fill D.C. streets with goods


USA Today's Jason Paul reports on the Obamamania trinkets in an article entitled, "Vendors fill D.C. streets with goods":

Thousands will evaluate Tuesday's inauguration of President Barack Obama not only by its historical significance but also by the sales of buttons, T-shirts and bobbleheads.

"Tis the season to sell Obama," said Yakimiyah Binyamin, an actor and student at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York.



Hawkers of Obama-related gifts and items numbered in the hundreds leading up to today. But closer to 2,000 — many, such as Binyamin, without proper credentials — are expected on Washington's streets, sidewalks and parks, greeting the more than 2 million people expected to descend on the district.

Binyamin, who planned to spend his inaugural holiday selling Obama calendars ($10 each), hopes the emotional draw of a new administration will help his church group sell out its inaugural stockpile. The 2,000 copies of the monthly planner weren't selling on Friday, but Binyamin remained optimistic. "It's almost like the Christmas sprit, but for a new president."

The Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs issued 700 vending licenses and promised space for 1,000 more spots in high-traffic areas outside designated zones. When the DCRA held a lottery last month to determine who would be licensed to sell, between 3,000 and 5,000 applications were received.

Vendors such as Binyamin, who plans on returning to New York after his holiday break ends on Wednesday, are seeking high rewards, but they face risk.

He said he needed to sell his inventory this week. He declined to share how much of an investment he had made.

Some vendors set up shop in permanent locations such as at the Obama Gift Center, steps from the White House. Others work kiosks in busy Metro stations or local malls.

Street vendors are pushing the typical inaugural buttons and T-shirts. But at the Obama Gift Center, specialty items such as Obama hot sauce ($12.95) and Obama energy packets ($6.95) are blowing street side competitors out of the water — a bottle of which, by the way, featuring Obama's picture, is $11.95.

"Generally, it's the same stuff you see walking around D.C. most of the year," said Lee Smith, a Washington attorney. This year, however, he says people are getting creative:

• Audacity of Soap ($6)

• Obama Mr. Potato Head ($10)

• Obama bobblehead ($19.99)

• Obama action figure ($14.95)

• Obama cuff links ($19.95)

• Obalma lip balm ($10)

Smith, who planned to attend an Obama inauguration party Friday, shopped for the perfect tie. "They're not very good-looking, but I thought it would be fun if I wore the worst possible Obama tie I could find," he said.

The Obama mania could be good news for year-round street vendors who, on a normal day, move $100 worth of merchandise. Inaugural traffic is giving hope of 10 times that amount.

For those who couldn't make the trek into Washington, there is always the Internet and TV. Sites such as eBay and inauguralcollectibles.com offer shoppers a chance to cash in. Shopping channel QVC is hosting a "Live from the Inaugural Ball" show that will feature what it calls "unique collectibles."

The options seem endless. Ellen Brown, a tourist from Carlton, Texas, warned her fellow shoppers about buying junk.

"There is so much out there, you have to pick and choose," Brown said, as she walked along U Street in Washington. "You don't want to buy any old thing."

Still, some street vendors are moving their Obama gear despite the competition and weather.

"When the business is good, I don't feel the cold," said a bundled Tracy Wang. "Right now, I'm hot."


Prom King and Prom Queen 2009


First Kids


During the inauguration festivities, President Obama and his family made J. Crew their house brand, as the family mixed haute couture with clothes and accessories the retailer made exclusively for them.

For the swearing-in ceremony, Malia and Sasha Obama wore brightly colored wool coats, gloves and scarves specially designed from J.Crew’s “crewcuts” line for children.

The company’s web traffic soared so much on J.Crew.com Wednesday that the site was temporarily unavailable at times. The company posted a congratulatory page on its Web site to the First Family (in large red and blue block letters), but also informed shoppers that they could not buy what the First Family had worn. It plans to post the sketches of Malia and Sasha’s outfits on its Web site within the next day.

On Wednesday, catalog operators directed callers to the company’s personal shoppers, who told them that there are similar products were available now but the most similar styles and colors would not come out until the fall line is released this summer.

Geithner and Our Incomprehensible Tax System


That we find so little support for tax simplification is a testament to how much politicians of both parties, and perhaps ordinary citizens, have come to see the IRS code not merely as a means for raising government revenues, but as a tool of social policy. Pick a cause on the Left, Right or in the Center—from encouraging home ownership to supporting working families to subsidizing higher education to incentivizing investment in environmentally-friendly energy—and we use the tax code to support it through deductions and credits. Many of those causes are no doubt worthy—who can argue about helping spur home ownership?—but once you make the tax code your agent of change you are on a slippery slope. The more deductions, credits, rates and alternate taxes we fold into our system in search of perfect equity and the promoting of worthy causes, the more likely we make it that ordinary Americans who get audited will get hit with big bills for back taxes.

A number of Geithner’s supporters have argued that it would be a shame to kill the nomination of someone so well qualified to run Treasury because of simple tax oversights. But as long as we keep passing off the tax blunders of sophisticated, well qualified individuals, we condemn the rest of Americans to an increasingly frustrating and counterproductive wrestling match with our unwieldy tax code.

Maybe, if Geithner is confirmed, this experience will make him the advocate for tax simplification that we need.

Obama Crowds



1.20.2009

SIX OBAMA CABINET NOMINEES CONFIRMED

The members were confirmed by unanimous vote. They were: Steven Chu (Energy), Arne Duncan (Education), Janet Napolitano (Homeland security), Ken Salazar (Interior), Eric Shinseki (Veterans Affairs), Tom Vilsack (Agriculture).

Obama Sworn in as 44th President of U.S.

Welcome: President Barack Hussein Obama


Changing of Power

My Sister Can't Be Let In For Her Seats

Obamas attend church before inauguration

Obama Inauguration

Buh Bye Bush!


1.19.2009

Martin Luther King on Malcolm X

1.14.2009

Obamamania!

1.09.2009

Inside WaMu’s orgy of liar-lending

From the News Tribune: Reckless American home buyers and lax federal regulation deserve a healthy share of the responsibility for the international credit crisis. But there’s no calculating the blame that belongs to reckless mortgage lenders.

The New York Times this week detailed the loan-mongering frenzy that brought down Seattle-based Washington Mutual in the biggest bank failure in history. It’s an appalling portrait of a once-responsible corporate culture gone rogue.

Under the leadership of CEO Kerry Killinger, WaMu morphed from a well-run company into a giant medicine show touting high-risk loans. Loan supervisor John Parsons was one of the barkers. Now in prison on drug-related theft charges, Parsons said he was doing meth daily while running a team that “screened” loan applications.

One such application came from a self-styled mariachi singer who claimed to be pulling in a six-figure income. That income could not be verified; Parsons finessed the problem by having the borrower photographed in mariachi costume in front of his house.

No one seems to have minded Parsons’ drug use. He got the job done.

That singer’s mortgage was what’s known as a “liar loan” – a loan extended with little or no attempt to determine whether the borrower can make the payments. Under Killinger’s leadership, WaMu couldn’t write enough of them. “If you were alive, they would give you a loan,” said an appraisal expert. “Actually, I think if you were dead, they would still give you a loan.” (source: News Tribune)

1.08.2009

Obama team urges delay in digital TV transition


President-elect Barack Obama is urging Congress to postpone the Feb. 17 switch from analog to digital television broadcasting, arguing that too many Americans who rely on analog TV sets to pick up over-the-air channels won't be ready.

In a letter to key lawmakers Thursday, Obama transition team co-chair John Podesta noted that the Commerce Department has run out of money for coupons to subsidize digital TV converter boxes for consumers. People who don't have cable or satellite service or a new TV with a digital tuner will need the converter boxes to keep their older analog sets working.

Obama officials are also concerned that the government is not doing enough to help consumers — particularly poor, rural and elderly Americans — prepare for and navigate the transition.

"With coupons unavailable, support and education insufficient, and the most vulnerable Americans exposed, I urge you to consider a change to the legislatively mandated analog cutoff date," Podesta wrote.

Congress required that broadcasters switch from analog to digital broadcasts, which are more efficient, to free up valuable chunks of wireless spectrum. The newly available room in the airwaves can be used for commercial wireless services and for emergency-response networks.

Podesta's letter went to the top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate and House Commerce committees. Congress mandated the Feb. 17 changeover and would have to pass a new law to postpone the date. ( Source: AP Newswire)




1.07.2009

Blair House Brew-ha-ha

Rachael Maddow from MSNBC discusses the Blair House follies with an Aussie reporter:

The Rolling Stone Magazine article entitled "Bush Apologizes: The Farewell Interview We Wish He'd Give: W. comes clean - on his dad, Condi's farts and the time Dick waterboarded the house boy" states:

Despite a financial crisis for the ages, the catastrophic collapse of a Republican Party crippled by his political legacy, and the highest presidential disapproval rating in the history of American polling, outgoing commander in chief George W. Bush has not completely lost his sense of fun. When Rolling Stone caught up with him at the White House shortly after the holidays for what would turn out to be his final extended sit-down interview as president, the graying but still quite fit Texan had just finished his morning exercycle session in an eagle-emblazoned sweatsuit and was fiddling with a new toy.

"They call it a Wii, or a Mee, or something," Bush tells me, smiling as he waves a wandlike plastic device in front of a 54-inch plasma TV in the Treaty Room, a large, brightly lit chamber on the second floor of the Executive Residence that traditionally functions as the president's private study. The president is playing a friendly game of Major League Baseball — the Boston Red Sox against his cherished Texas Rangers — and a computer-rendered Daisuke Matsuzaka drills a hard slider right past him, down and in.

"Huh," says the president. "Might have to choke up a little."

Read the entire Rolling Stone article here.

Rain on Burris's Circus Parade

Dana Milbank reports for the Washington Post: Senator-designate Roland Burris (D-Blagojevich) was damp and displeased.

He had come to Washington to be sworn in as the junior senator from Illinois, but he was cast out by the Senate secretary and instead wound up, his overcoat soaked and his eyeglasses dripping, in a muddy patch of land across Constitution Avenue from the Capitol known as "The Swamp."

"I presented my credentials to the secretary of the Senate," the diminutive figure announced to reporters, and was "advised that my credentials were not in order and I would not be accepted." Still, he added, "I am not seeking to have any type of confrontation."

Of course not. He was seeking to have a circus -- and he succeeded
.
It could not have surprised Burris, the legitimate appointee of an illegitimate governor, that Senate Democrats would refuse to admit him as one of their own, at least for now. Senators have their drivers take them past the security checkpoint to the Senate carriageway; Burris had to disembark on Constitution Avenue and walk in the rain. Senators can take the marble staircase to the senators-only entrance; Burris -- belittled as a mere "regular citizen" by the cop at the door -- had to go through the guardhouse with the metal detector. For Burris, there was no senators' dining room, senators' elevator or senators' restroom yesterday -- and certainly no floor privileges.

Instead, he was greeted by more than 100 reporters, who braved the cold rain to stick their cameras and microphones in his face, making it necessary for police to come to his aid: "Make a hole! Leave a path! Let him come through! Let him breathe!" TV cameras banged into heads. Sound men walking backward tripped and fell. Burris himself stumbled. CNN carried some of the mayhem live, with shaky footage resembling a scene from "The Blair Witch Project." Half a dozen Burris aides and lawyers, doubling as bodyguards, made a point of referring to their client by his not-yet-acquired title. "Senator," one of them called out, "this is how Brad Pitt feels."
Continue reading the entire article here.

Bush Awards More Medals of Freedom

According to the UK Guardian's Johnathan Steele's article entitled, "All the president's men: George W Bush has awarded medals to Tony Blair – and some of the world's most ineffectual leaders. Are they his mirror?" Now we have Bush's final three foreign honorees. Who would the departing president tap to join him in a "war on terror" Gang of Four? Tony Blair, Australia's former prime minister, John Howard, and Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe. Selected "for their efforts to promote democracy, human rights and peace abroad", according to the White House.

Mr. Steele writes: Blair and Howard were already destined to go down in history as the only western leaders who joined Bush in his illegal and unnecessary war on Iraq. In earlier years, Bush gave the Medal of Freedom to his invasion commander, General Tommy Franks, and his occupation overlord, L Paul Bremer. Now comes the turn of two men who subordinated their country's national interest to Bush's war.

On human rights in general, Blair's record in office is as poor as Bush's. He supported Guantánamo Bay and extraordinary rendition for unjustly detained Muslims and since leaving Downing Street and becoming an envoy to the Middle East has kept silent on the arrest of Palestinian politicians and the growth of Israeli army checkpoints in the West Bank.
A Bush medal for the Colombian president is equally fitting. No one would expect Bush to honour the leftwing anti-Yanqui presidents of Bolivia and Venezuela, but he might have thought of awarding the leaders of Brazil and Chile, who have helped to strengthen democracy and revive their countries' faltering economies. Colombia, by contrast, is a country where journalists and democracy activists regularly fall prey to rightwing paramilitary death squads. It has the world's worst rate of assassinations of trade union leaders.

As for Howard, he left office just over a year ago, discredited, humiliated and unable even to retain his own parliamentary seat, as unpopular in Australia as Bush is in his country. Whether Bush's accolade will help Howard to regain his compatriots' respect remains to be seen.

Aussie's John Howard bumps Barack Obama out of Blair House in Washington

  • Obamas told they can't stay in mansion
  • Former Australian Prime Mister, John Howard already has place booked
  • Obamas have to move into a hotel
BARACK Obama and his family have been forced to move into a hotel because John Howard is staying at their place.

The former prime minister and his wife Janette are booked to stay at Washington’s Blair House on January 12 as he will receive the US Medal of Freedom from outgoing President George W. Bush the following day.
Blair House, a 119-room mansion, is the official state guest house of the US president and traditionally where incoming US presidents stay before their inauguration.

The Obamas will take up residence there on January 15 but had asked to move in on January 4 so their daughters could settle into school.
The funniest part of this story are the comments from the citizens of Australia on John Howard, the medal of freedom, and his place alongside Bush in the historical dustbin of Iraq. Check-out the readers comments at one of the AU's newsites here.

1.03.2009

#1 Race-baiting Skunk for the 2008 Election

The McCain-Palin mob's that they passed off as campaign rallies.


Sarah Palin hateful rallies were so bad that Congressman John Lewis wrote an op-ed comparing the race-baiting tactics to that of Gov. George Wallace.

"As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign. What I am seeing today reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history," Lewis said in a statement, continuing:

Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.

During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who only desired to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed one Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.

As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Governor Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better.

MSNBC's Countdown: Inciting the Mob Pt. 1

Countdown: Inciting the Mob Pt. 2

SNL's take on John McCain's crazy rallies.

#2 Race-baiting Skunks of the Political Season

All Rev. Wright, all the time.

The media's non-stop coverage of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright sermons was ridiculous. From Fox News, AM Talk Radio, and other assorted media outlets were shocked that a black preacher in Chicago was speaking truth to power. The media harassed the members of the congregation, and crossed the line concerning Obama's and Rev. Wright's First Amendment rights of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and non-state interference with respect to religion.


There are hundreds of clips that support this thesis, but since Fox News played such the official race-baiting conduit for the 2008 campaign, Sean Hannity seems like the best example of the Rev. Wright being served-up and skewered on television.

#3 Race-baiting Skunk from the 2008 Election

Obama bucks. Wow, what can anybody actually say to defend the obviously racist intent of the Obama bucks. The images of watermelon, fried chicken, ribs, and kool aid evoke every negative racist stereotype, then to top off the racist intent of the Republican Newsletter, they depicted these images on a $10 food stamp. The Obama bucks was issued by the Chaffey Community Republican Women led by a housewife named Diane Fedele.

1.02.2009

#4 Race-baiting Skunks from the 2008 Election

The South shall rise again, as two southern congressmen evoked the mantra of the old Confederacy and the American Apartheid Era or Jim Crow, when Rep. Westmoreland called Mr. Obama "uppity," while Rep. Geoff Davis called Mr. Obama a "boy." According to Crooks and Liars, "Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland used the racially-tinged term "uppity" to describe Obama."

Westmoreland was discussing vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's speech with reporters outside the House chamber and was asked to compare her with Michelle Obama.

"Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they're a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they're uppity," Westmoreland said. Asked to clarify that he used the word “uppity,” Westmoreland said, “Uppity, yeah.”

Steven Colbert's interview with Rep. Lynn Westmoreland:

#5 Race-baiting Skunks from the 2008 Election

Obama's bitter remarks.


CNN weighs in on Obama's remarks and Hillary's response.

#6 Race-baiting Skunk from the 2008 Election

The P.U.M.A.'s (Party Unity My Ass) calls Obama an "inadequate black man."


Whenever a Hillary supporter ejects race into the election, Fox News seems to have their cell phones on speed dial. The Fox News team seems to offer ANY disgrunteled Hillary Clinton supporter plenty of time to discuss their greivences. Here is Neil with a soft-focused interview from the ranting woman that was thrown out of the DNC meeting.

#7 Racist Skunks of the 2008 Election


Obama, Ferraro told a newspaper in California recently, would not be in the position he is in today if he were “a white man’’ or a woman of any color.

“I think what America feels about a woman becoming president takes a very secondary place to Obama's campaign - to a kind of campaign that it would be hard for anyone to run against," Ferraro said in an interview with the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Cal., in a column published Friday in advance of a speech in the area. “For one thing, you have the press, which has been uniquely hard on her. It's been a very sexist media. Some just don't like her. The others have gotten caught up in the Obama campaign.

“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," Ferraro told the newspaper. "And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

# 8 Racist Skunks of the 2008 Elections

Jesse Jackson's "Hot Mike" on Fox News where he said that he wanted to "cut off Barack Obama's nuts."


Watch the Jesse Jackson clip: